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Signs and symptoms of brain tumours in dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

The signs and symptoms of a brain tumour in a dog depend on where in the brain the tumour is located and how quickly the abnormal cells grow. Certain breeds of dogs, such as boxers, Boston terriers, golden retrievers, and Doberman pinschers, may be more likely to develop brain tumours. Older dogs are more likely than younger ones to develop brain tumours. Signs and symptoms of the condition can be physical or psychological.

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Seizures are one of the most common symptoms of a brain tumour in a dog. As the tumour enlarges, seizures become more pronounced. Dogs may suffer from cluster seizures, where several seizures occur in succession in a short time span. During a seizure, your dog stops breathing as oxygen stops flowing to his brain. Seizures that last more than four minutes can lead to brain damage and even death. Seizures can be controlled with medication, but as the tumour grows, medication may become less effective.

Loss of senses

A tumour can affect the optic nerve, leading to partial or total blindness. If your dog suddenly has trouble navigating around the house and crashes into things, she may have a tumour. Tumours can also affect your dog's sense of smell and hearing. If your dog doesn't come when she's called or doesn't respond to sounds around her, schedule a visit to your vet.


A dog with a brain tumour may whine, yowl or rub his head against objects in an effort to relieve pain. The pain may be so severe that it prevents your dog from sleeping. When he does sleep, he may experience trouble breathing.

Changes in behaviour

A brain tumour can completely change your dog’s temperament. If your dog is usually calm, she may become more aggressive. Obsessive behaviour, such as continuous barking, may arise. Your dog may appear disoriented, have trouble navigating around familiar places or have accidents in the house.

Trouble walking

A brain tumour may cause your dog to lose balance and stumble or even fall. His legs may quiver, and he may have trouble climbing stairs or jumping.

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About the Author

A writing professional with more than 15 years of experience, Steve Repsys is currently employed in a college marketing environment. He is part of a team that produces award-winning publications. He holds a bachelor's degree in communication from Stonehill College and a master's degree in sports marketing from Springfield College.

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